President Tinubu, CBN, And The Economy


The resurgence of Gestapo era last witnessed during General Sani Abacha’s jackboot regime is gradually staging a comeback in our democratic dispensation. Nigeria witnessed the abrasive invasion of the National Assembly by the Nigerian secret police, the Department of State Security Service (DSS), under former President Muhammadu Buhari. The President though was not in the saddle at the time, was away on medical treatment abroad. His Vice President, who acted as the President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo held sway. The Vice President didn’t blink an eyelid sacking the Director General of the agency, Lawal Daura, for the assault, and desecration of the symbol of democracy. The vice president considered the incident a misnomer that should not be allowed to fester. The northern political elite never forgave Osinbajo for that singular action. Their oligarchical chauvinism made sure Osinbajo never acted in presidential capacity till the regime timed out. Power was no longer transmitted to him even when the president was on official or medical trips.

July 25, 2023, reenacted the ugly DNA of the DSS. The agency had arraigned Godwin Emefiele, the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, in a high court in Lagos, accused of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition by the Federal Government. Recall that the DSS in November/December 2022 had declared Godwin Emefiele wanted for terrorism sponsorship. The hide and seek game came to a temporary halt after the DSS withdrew their operatives from the security details of the governor, making him vulnerable, but the former Chief of Defence Staff, General Luck Irabor, provided him a succour, replacing his security details with military personnel. We all know it was just a temporary reprieve as those who wanted their pounds of flesh of Emefiele were waiting.

About a week ago, a court of competent jurisdiction ruled and ordered the DSS to either arraign Emefiele or release him from their detention. Emefiele until his arraignment has been incarcerated for 36 days. The agency, few hours after the court order announced that Godwin Emefiele has been charged to court. However, on the day of arraignment, the DSS threw decency to the to the winds, engaging a sister agency in supremacy fist cuff. It was not only deplorable, but condemnable. The judge had ruled and committed Godwin Emefiele to bail of N20m and one surety with landed property within the jurisdiction of the court. The judge also ordered that Emefiele be kept in the custody of the Correctional Service pending when the accused will perfect his bail. The DSS opposed to that, claimed to have been directed by ‘orders from the above’ to take Emefiele back into custody.
Correctional Service personnel were disallowed from carrying out the court order, as the squadron leader of the Correctional operatives was forcefully rough-handled. It took the directive of the Comptroller General of the Service who ordered his operatives to standdown and leave the court premises to bring a semblance of sanity after securing Emefiele.

The charges against Emefiele are purely civil which does not warrant the show of force and shame exhibited by the DSS. Many non-state actors have been seen brazenly brandishing sophisticated weapons, but none has been seen treated as Emefiele. This is not defending Godwin Emefiele for whatever allegation brought against him, but the treatment meted out to a public officer of his stature, who has meritoriously served his country is unbefitting.

Is Godwin Emefiele sins more than a pistol and 123 rounds of ammunition found in his house? Are these exhibits enough to make him a terrorist or sponsor of terrorism? Godwin Emefiele may have erred while doing his tenure at the CBN, but treatment being meted out to him does not justify the weight of the allegation. It is also obvious that some politicians have sworn not to forgive Emefiele and are bent on destroying him. From the bestial behaviour of the DSS operatives, it was obvious that Emefiele had been marked for destruction for daring to redesign the Naira at the onset of 2022/23 political campaigns. President Bola Tinubu while campaigning had cried foul, accusing the suspended CBN governor of targeting him for failure with the redesign. He never hid his disdain for Emefiele’s actions.

Peradventure Godwin Emefiele had not dabbled into politics, would President Tinubu have felt that way? But the President on every occasion labelled the CBN as a mess under the suspended governor. He alleged Emefiele to have perpetrated arbitrage and rent seeking. It was therefore obvious; he would not work with Emefiele.

Godwin Emefiele too may have probably resigned, knowing that the political class, particularly President Tinubu, viewed his Naira redesign policy as a vendetta against his frustrated political ambition, thus it is now their time to take their pound of flesh. He should have resigned immediately President Tinubu won the election. Whether his resignation would be honoured or not is another debate altogether. The political class should have exercised restrain considering the economic implication of what Emefiele symbolises, the CBN. How would the international investing community see us – disobedient to court rules? A CBN governor humiliated because of petty political miscalculation or skirmish? Yet, we are a nation hungrily looking for investors. The economy is on its knees, the Naira is battered, and insecurity is devouring us. Emefiele’s intransigence is inconsequential to the barrage of challenges facing the nation. President Tinubu who is acclaimed to possess a large political heart of forgiveness should thread softly about Godwin Emefiele. He promised renewed hope, and to rule Nigeria with the rule of law. Incidence at the Lagos High court was barbaric, anti-rule of law, and despotic.

President Tinubu’s golden silence while the drama lasted is suspect, belying his promise. His silence affirms the saying going around now: ‘Baba so pe’, meaning Baba said so. The economy is troubled, citizens are agonised by his economic reforms. Assuaging and giving Nigerians comfort should be his paramount desire, not missteps of an individual. The show of shame by the DSS operatives, witnessed globally, cast a big question mark on what President Tinubu promised and what he is doing. Are we back to the era of vendetta – Col. Sambo Dasuki, a former National Security Adviser? Squaring political squabbles?

Nigerians went through hell on earth during the 8 years of President Buhari who whipped us with horsewhip, Tinubu should not whip us with scorpion. He should distance himself from political detractors and hyenas who do not mean well for him. Emefiele as a human being did his best but may have faltered on the job to the detriment of our socio-economic wellbeing. Throwing the baby away with the bathwater would be antithetical to the so-called political large heartedness of the President Tinubu. There is also the case of the suspended Economic and Financial Crimes Commission chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa. He also has been in the confines of the DSS without prosecution for over a month. President Tinubu’s loud silence is discomforting. Or is Godwin Emefiele receiving the same treatment as Col. Sambo Dasuki? If Godwin Emefiele is to pay for his sins, the federal government should make it decent and comforting for him, not this cruelty. It casts a bad image on us as a nation.

I ask: will the government punish those hooded DSS operatives for desecrating the temple of justice and brutalizing a sister agency? Or is this the demonstration of synergy between security agencies promised by the President? If this trend is not urgently arrested, I bet, it is a good pill for anarchy. A stich in time, they say, saves nine.

Chisom Adindu writes from Lagos.

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